Types of Premises Liability Cases We Handle
In premises liability cases, people are typically divided into one of three groups, and property owners can have different duties of care depending on a person’s status. The three groups include:
- Invitees — Individuals who are on property by the expressed or implied invitation of an owner, often for mutual benefit, are considered invitees. The property owner has a duty to warn invitees of dangerous conditions that they are aware of. People who are on property open to the public are usually considered invitees.
- Licensees — Individuals who are on property with the consent of a property owner but for their own benefit are licensees. A property owner still needs to warn a licensee about dangerous conditions they are aware of.
- Trespassers — Individuals who are on property without the property owner’s consent are considered trespassers. A property owner only owes the duty to a trespasser to not engage in injurious conduct or warn of conditions that pose a risk of death or serious bodily harm.
One important exception as it relates to trespassers is the “attractive nuisance” doctrine that allows for property owners to be held liable for injuries caused by hazardous objects or conditions that are likely to attract small children, such as swimming pools. Trespassers who are children can be entitled to premises liability damages in attractive nuisance cases when property owners do not make efforts to secure their attractive nuisances.
One of the most common kinds of premises liability claims is the aforementioned slip and fall accident. Slip and fall accidents may be the result of such conditions as:
- Cracked or uneven flooring
- Dirty and/or trash covered floors
- Torn floor mats
- Potholes, ice, curbs in parking lots
- Snow and ice
- Stray electrical cords and wires
- Inadequate lighting
- Defects in pavement
- Broken handrails
- Exposed cords (obstacles)
- Wet, slippery flooring
- Unsafe or hazardous premise/property
Premises liability could also include negligent security claims when a person is the victim of a violent crime or sexual assault.
Premises liability claims can present other challenges depending on whether the property you were injured on was public property or private property. In accidents in public places, always make sure that you quickly file a report with a manager on duty wherever your fall occurred and ask for a copy of the report.
Some of the most common kinds of places that premises liability accidents occur include, but are not limited to:
- Escalators and Elevators
- Small Businesses
- Parking Lots and Garages
- Amusement Parks
- Grocery Stores
- Public Spaces
- Retail Stores
- Office Buildings
- Movie Theaters
- Hotels and Resorts
The injuries people may suffer in premises liability accidents can vary depending on numerous factors, but it is always important for all people to make sure that they seek medical attention. Even if you do not think you were hurt in a fall or other premises liability accident, you should still go to a hospital simply to create a medical record and also to ensure there was no injury with delayed symptoms.
Premises liability accidents can often leave people in hospitals for several weeks or months and then accumulating numerous other treatment expenses for continuing care and rehabilitation. The same victims can have difficulty returning to work.
Possible injuries involved in premises liability claims may include:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries
- Neck, spine, and spinal cord injuries (including paralysis)
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal organ injuries
- Muscle strains
A premises liability accident could also result in a person dying from their injuries. The family of a person killed because of a property owner’s negligence can often file a wrongful death lawsuit against the property owner.
Can I recover damages if I was partially at fault for my accident?
Yes. New Jersey Revised Statute § 2A:15-5.1 establishes that contributory negligence, which is your own degree of fault in an accident, will not bar recovery in an action to recover damages for negligence so long as their negligence was not greater than the negligence of the defendants. This is known as modified comparative fault, which is frequently referred to as a 51 percent bar. This same state law also holds that a person’s damages in a personal injury case can be reduced in proportion to their negligence. This means that a person who is awarded $100,000 in a premises liability accident but was found to have been 15 percent at fault will have their award reduced by $15,000 and receive $85,000.
What kinds of damages could I be entitled to?
Many premises liability accident cases are resolved through settlements, rather than going to trial. Some cases will make it to court though, and a person who proves their premises liability case will usually be awarded compensatory damages. The phrase compensatory damages is usually some combination of economic damages, awards for bills that can actually be calculated, and noneconomic damage, awards for harm that is more emotional or psychological in nature.
Economic damages often include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage that can be proven through bills and estimates while noneconomic damages are far more subjective awards for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. New Jersey does also allow for punitive damage awards, but they are quite rare because they have to be proven by clear and convincing evidence.
How is my case different if a public entity was the property owner?
Lawsuits that you intend to file against public entities in New Jersey will require you to file a notice of intent to sue with the public entity within 90 days of the date of your accident under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act. This is dramatically shorter than the standard statute of limitations for private entities. The public entity is then allowed as much as six months to review a claim before a lawsuit can be filed.
Contact a preeminent NJ law firm for your premises liability claim
Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers provides highly professional and ethical representation for slip and fall injuries and other premises liability claims throughout New Jersey. Let us help you obtain the full compensation you deserve. Call us today at 973-364-8300 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.